Santo Pino has spent a major part of his career working with schools and districts concerning how they implement the middle school model. His work as a teacher, coach, assistant principal, principal, director of middle and high school programs, district trainer for principals, and various executive roles with AMLE makes Santo adept at helping with middle level school improvement. He has done tremendous work with AMLE's School Improvement Assessment and staff development focused on the results of the assessment. He has worked with district and building level administrators around the nation to improve their middle school models from the ground up. He has presented on middle level topics at state, national, and international conferences, including workshops for the Department of Defense Middle Schools in Italy, Germany, and Turkey. He was one of the original faculty members for the AMLE Leadership Institute from 2001 to 2011.
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Linda Hopping is the state director of the Georgia Schools to Watch Program, the chair of the National Forum's Schools to Watch program, lead trainer for the National Forum Early Warning Indicator project, and a school coach in California. She is a former middle grades teacher, assistant principal, principal, and middle grades staff development coordinator in Georgia. While principal at Crabapple Middle School, she established two multiage teams that were highly successful. Ms. Hopping has served on the board of trustees of AMLE as well as on the AMLE Foundation Board. She also has served as president and executive director of the Georgia Middle School Association. She is one of two authors and a lead consultant for the AMLE School Improvement Assessment. She has presented at state and national conferences and has worked as an educational trainer, lecturer, and consultant.
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Dr. Cedrick Gray is formerly the proud lead teacher of the Jackson Public School District. He was appointed superintendent by the Jackson Public Schools Board of Trustees in 2012. He is widely praised for leadership and guidance that have revived the District and given it a new focus. He’s known for an innovative and effective strategic direction process: "Wearing WIGs (Wildly Important Goals), having FITs (Focused Instructional Teams), and saying ABCs (Attendance, Behavior, Coursework)," which applies a research-based focus to school improvement and student achievement. Since being appointed superintendent by the Jackson Public Schools Board of Trustees in 2012, Dr. Gray has been acclaimed as an innovator, motivator, risk taker, outside-of-the-box thinker, and true educational visionary. His recent achievements include the following:
- Superintendent of the Year, National Association of School Superintendents, 2016
- Superintendent of the Year, National Alliance of Black School Educators, 2015
- Educator of the Year, Young Gifted and Empowered Awards, Savvy Life Magazine, 2016
- Outstanding Administrator Advocate, Mississippi Association of Gifted Children, 2015
Dr. Gray's career has been guided by his vision to embody breakthrough leadership by inspiring others to see the leader in themselves. He previously served as the superintendent of Fayette County Public Schools in Fayette County, Tennessee. Prior to becoming a superintendent, Dr. Gray was principal of Craigmont Middle School and Lester Pre-K-8 School, both in Memphis, Tennessee. Currently, he is the Director of Aspiring Principals for New Leaders – Southeast Region. Dr. Gray and his wife, Karen, are the proud parents of their daughter, Peyton.
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Dr. Bobb Darnell is president of Achievement Strategies, Inc. and an advocate for high student achievement and daily professional growth. He served as director of staff support for more than 1,700 staff members in a northwest Illinois school district and taught for more than 25 years. Bobb has served on the board of trustees for the National and Illinois Staff Development Councils, Illinois International Branch of the Dyslexia Association, and has been a member of numerous national and state task forces and committees. He is the author of ASCD's 2002 action tool kit—A Guide for Instructional Leaders, and has written four staff development guides for Wavelength's award winning educational comedy videos. Bobb's work on the 21st Century Instructional Leader is featured in ASCD's 2010 PD Quick Kits.
Dr. Darnell is an internationally known speaker who has delivered keynote presentations and conducted workshops for educators at all grade levels. Bobb's high-energy workshops are filled with "edutainment" and practical ideas about Common Core State Standards, formative assessment, data-driven instruction, literacy improvement, and intervention strategies. He helps administrators and teacher leaders fine-tune their knowledge and skills for leading school improvement initiatives. Teachers and administrators can easily sense his enthusiasm for continuous improvement, job satisfaction, and lifelong learning. He is truly committed to helping teachers build high performance classrooms and develop responsible and self-directed students.
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Judith Conk is an educator who has taught and administered at all levels of education from preschool to graduate school in a career that spans almost 40 years. Working in both urban and suburban settings, the school systems she has led as a principal, assistant superintendent, and for 16 years, superintendent, have won recognition for their outstanding educational programs that recognize the individual in each student. She presently heads her own educational consulting firm, Consulting for Results, with varied national and international partnerships spanning PreK-University level education and concentrating on leadership, teaching and learning, middle grades, and the arts. She also serves as an adjunct professor for University of Massachusetts - Amherst.
A frequently requested speaker, author, professional developer, and school coach, Mrs. Conk has spoken and written on a variety of topics. She has worked extensively with schools in the area of curriculum development for the 21st century. She served on the national selection committee to select the Disney Teacher of the Year. She was awarded the prestigious Distinguished Service Award for Educational Leadership from the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, following a similar award at the county level. Mrs. Conk also received a Governor’s Award in Arts Education as Outstanding Superintendent of the Year.
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Nancy Doda is an internationally renowned speaker, workshop leader, and author. Regarded as one of the world's foremost experts on middle grades education, she has devoted much of her career to improving middle grades education. Recipient of AMLE's most prestigious award, the John H. Lounsbury award, Nancy has supported thousands of middle grades educators in their efforts to improve learning for young adolescents. She has a broad range of expertise from school organization and climate, to curriculum and instruction. She is best known for customizing professional development.
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